African churches seek greater role in campaign against arms trade

 Churches in Africa must take the lead in stopping the proliferation of small arms on the continent - this was one of the main messages to come from a two-day Ecumenical Conference which concluded in Nairobi yesterday. Delegates to the conference, jointly organized by the All Africa Conference of Churches, (AACC) and Gothenburg Process also condemned the whole process of production and sale of illegal arms, which they said was the cause of many conflicts around the world. The conference was officially opened by AACC Programmes Director, Arthur Shoo, while its inauguration was performed by the International President of the Gothenburg Process, Bishop William Kenney from the UK. The Gothenburg Process is an ecumenical initiative to create a meeting place for dialogue between arms trade producers, users and civil society. The focus of the conference, which gathered 30 church leaders and experts on arms trade from 14 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America, was the Churches responsibility to work for a legally binding global arms trade treaty. There is a process already taking place for such an Arms Trade Treaty, and during the conference it was clear that the churches can and should contribute much more to this work. The conference was held this time Nairobi to broaden the participation from churches and organisations in Africa. Churches in Africa have a lot of experience of how armed violence affects communities, and some of them are deeply involved in community-based disarmament. Rev Denis Matsolo of the Christian Council of Mozambique spoke about how the churches in Mozambique have played a major role in collecting and transforming guns into peaceful artwork.

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